Berry's Release Leaves 3rd-Round Pick Bentley as Favorite to Start for Lions

Sigmund Bloom@SigmundBloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJuly 23, 2012

May 11, 2012; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions cornerback Dwight Bentley (28) in action during rookie mini camp at the Detroit Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE
Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

After beginning the offseason as a presumptive starter, Detroit Lions cornerback Aaron Berry found out exactly what it would take for the team to release a player because of his off-the-field transgressions. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that the Lions let go Berry this morning, two days after his second arrest of the offseason (and in the last month).

Birkett names free agent-pickup Jacob Lacey, returning backup Alphonso Smith and third-round pick Bill Bentley as the competitors for the job that was supposed to go to Berry. Smith started 10 games for the Lions in 2010, and Lacey has been a starter in the past for the Indianapolis Colts

Last month, even before Berry's first arrest, Birkett wrote that Bentley could "force his way onto the field."

According to Birkett, the team wants to play Bentley on the outside because of his size. That might seem like a strange statement to make about a 5'10", 182-pound corner who earned the nickname "Bill" in middle school because of his resemblance to Nickelodeon character "Little Bill" (via MLive.com), but general manager Martin Mayhew knows better.

Mayhew knows that Bentley will "throw his body around," according to MLive.com. He and head coach Jim Schwartz went back and watched Bentley against No. 5 overall pick Justin Blackmon, and Bentley had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. The Lions were sold enough to spend a top-100 pick on him, which is significantly more than they invested in Lacey or Smith. 

Bentley reports to training camp today with the rest of the Lions rookies. Expect to see him throwing his body around against starting NFC North receivers in a little over a month.

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